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Archive for the ‘crochet’ Category

If it’s a Wednesday night there’s only one place you can find me – T-Bone’s Records & Cafe. Why? Because it’s Stitch ‘n Bitch night! My favorite night of the week! Do you have a group of friends that you knit with regularly? If not, you should! Knitting (and crafting of any kind) is always best when shared with others. And if you can’t find a local group to join, then create one! That’s what I did!

When we were living in Columbia, SC I had a group that got together weekly for coffee, stitching, and shared stories. For those with kids, it was a break from the chaos. For those in school, it was a break from studying. For all of us, it was a break from the constant buzz of busy lives and something we all looked forward to. We even caught the attention of the local newspaper!


When we made the move to Hattiesburg, MS I was leaving behind not only a lifetime of friends and family (I had lived in Columbia my entire life!) but I was also leaving behind my crafting community. A community that was built on shared interests and a love for the handmade and grew to become a family of sorts that rode the peaks and valleys of life together. I knew NO ONE in Hattiesburg. Not a soul. How was I going to survive?

But you know what? Knitters are EVERYWHERE. And it turns out I didn’t have to venture any farther than my front yard to meet my first one in Hattiesburg. Her name was Heidi and she lived just a few blocks away! She was walking her dogs and stopped to chat. When she asked what I do for a living I sheepishly (ba-dum-bum!) said that I used to be a librarian but was now pursuing knitwear design. I expected her to go “huh?” but instead, her face lit up! “I’M A KNITTER, TOO!” she exclaimed. And BAM, in an instant, a friendship was born.

After that, it seemed like Hattiesburg knitters and crafters started coming out of the woodwork. But it wasn’t until I met my friend, Sam, that the idea to form another knitting group became a reality. Sam knew other knitters/crafters from a group that used to get together regularly and mentioned that she missed the camaraderie. It was then that Hub City Crafters was born.

Every week we descend on the local record shop/cafe, eat some great food, drink some great beer and coffee, and talk about what’s going on in our lives. We are an eclectic mix of ladies and gents who knit, crochet, embroider, make jewelry, and more! These gals (and guys!) have seen me through each of my pattern releases and are my best cheering section when the self-doubt creeps in. They are also my best “idea-bouncer-off-ers” when it comes to the look (or the name!) of any design I’m working on.

What would I do without them? I don’t know and I don’t want to find out. I can honestly say that ALL of my closest friends here in Hattiesburg I have met through my knitting group. What started out as a handful of people has grown to two (sometimes three!) tables full of laughter (and sometimes even some stitching). We’ve made coffee cozies to sell in the cafe for Habitat for Humanity. We’ve yarnbombed downtown Hattiesburg. Who knows what’s next on our crafty agenda!

So take some time to create with others. In my opinion, it is a requirement when it comes to your own creative growth. And thankfully, with websites like Ravelry and Craftsy, even if you live in a place where getting together in person is not an easy task, you can still be part of a community that can nurture and help grow your own creative side. If you are looking for a crafting community in your area to join, there are two great places to search! If you are on Ravelry, you can browse their groups by location to find a group near you! There is also a directory of local Stitch ‘n Bitch groups at stitchnbitch.org.

By the way, all of YOU are part of my creative community, too, and for that I say Thank You. xoxo

 

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Back in January, my awesome crafting group (the Hub City Crafters) started tossing around the idea of doing a yarn bombing in downtown Hattiesburg. We thought the perfect time would be the Spring Art Walk in April and the perfect “partners in crime” would be the always-up-for-quirky-fun-stuff duo of Jason and Adam who own CLICK Boutique downtown (they just opened their online store so go buy cute things from them!). They were thrilled to have us yarn bomb their streetscape and even gave us two mannequins to bomb as well! (I decided to “bomb” them with some crocheted dresses and someone bought one of them! Score!)

First we measured everything – trees, parking meters, tables, chairs, door handles, mannequins – and starting handing out assignments. Everyone had about 6-8 weeks to finish their part(s) and we installed everything the morning of the Spring Art Walk (April 13). It was a HUGE success. Everyone loved it! (So much so that we got several requests for other yarn bombings around the city. Unfortunately, deadlines were too tight for us to pull them off. Yarn bombings take a lot of time to plan I discovered!)

Here is the big announcement email that CLICK sent out that morning:

ClickEmail

The installation:

Front St Yarn Bomb - Spring Art Walk 4/13/13
Front St Yarn Bomb - Spring Art Walk 4/13/13

Front St Yarn Bomb - Spring Art Walk 4/13/13
Front St Yarn Bomb - Spring Art Walk 4/13/13
Front St Yarn Bomb - Spring Art Walk 4/13/13
Front St Yarn Bomb - Spring Art Walk 4/13/13

Art Walk:

Front St Yarn Bomb - Spring Art Walk 4/13/13
Front St Yarn Bomb - Spring Art Walk 4/13/13
Front St Yarn Bomb - Spring Art Walk 4/13/13

We took it down after 12 days (before it got really icky). It really was a ton of fun and it was great to get such wonderful feedback from the community. It also brought some attention to our group which brought us new crafty people to play with! Yay! I can’t wait to do it again! (Well, yes I can. I am actually enjoying working on my own projects these days, thankyouverymuch! More on those later!)

I hope this has given YOU a little inspiration to plan your own yarn bombing! Go spread some happy! xoxo

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So I guess the title of this post could have two meanings. The first being Yay! Spring is here! The birds are back! The flowers are blooming! The second being the *chirp-chirp* of crickets as this blog has been very very quiet lately! Well, as for the latter, the past few months have been filled with ups! And downs. One big “up” (and my main timesuck the past couple of months) has been the planning and implementation of a yarn bombing in downtown Hattiesburg that we successfully pulled off this past weekend for the Spring Art Walk. The yarn bombing deserves its own blog post so stay tuned for that! It ate up a lot of yarn and I drank up a lot of coffee!

A big “down” happened in February as an F-4 tornado came through Hattiesburg and destroyed hundreds of homes and buildings (on my 36th birthday, no less!). Thankfully, no one was killed.

Taken Feb. 12, 2013 – two days after the tornado hit. This is at our local Red Cross (just 1/3 of a mile from our house). It was completely destroyed.

These were taken April 11, 2013 – two months after the tornado hit. Still a lot of clean-up and rebuilding left to do.

I think I went into a bit of a funk after the tornado. I didn’t really want to do anything! I didn’t knit. I didn’t crochet. I had gone out the morning of for a”birthday run” but didn’t lace up my shoes again until more than a week later. I wanted to limit my exposure to all of the devastation. It had wiped out most of the old beautiful trees in front of the university. It changed our city. But, life is really starting to move forward here in Hattiesburg. We are busying ourselves with outdoor concerts, art walks, festivals. Yarn bombings! Spring is definitely bringing new life to our city!

And of course, once I started running regularly again, my mood started to lift! Go figure! That, coupled with the warmer temps, made me long for my knitting needles and crochet hooks. It even made me crave a bit of sewing!

So I decided to embrace this newly awakened sewing urge and finish some quilt blocks I had been slacking on for a quilting bee (before really buckling down for all of my yarn bombing projects).

Spring also gifted me with a nice surprise this week! I received Patternfish’s April newsletter and was shocked to see that my Flower Market Shawl pattern made the Prime Minister’s list of favorite patterns for 2012! She narrowed her original three page list down to only 18 patterns! Her kind words about my pattern were the icing on the cake (and a bit of a “pinch me” moment)! It was definitely a great start to my week!

I hope that Spring has brought you a few lovelies as well! And maybe inspired you to pull out your sewing machine, knitting needles, crochet hooks, or that project that’s been languishing. It is definitely my most favorite season of the year. I just wish it lasted longer down here! It’s starting to feel like summer already!

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Would you believe that one of my New Year’s Resolutions was to blog more often? Heh.

So what’s been happening the past several months? My Flower Market Shawl pattern is now available on Ravelry, Patternfish and Craftsy and has been a great success! I am thrilled with the feedback I’ve gotten on it. I even got an email from Patternfish congratulating me on its success and telling me to “DESIGN MORE!” OK, OK, OK! I’m workin’ on it!

Of course, I’ve been knitting and crocheting (and not finishing) about a gazillion projects. Well, I did finish one sweater but I haven’t a) sewn it together or b) found buttons for it. Maybe I’m a “process knitter.” Someone who enjoys the actual knitting and not the actual finishing. Ahem…

Three of my current (constant) works in progress are:

Aidez Cardigan

The popular Aidez cardigan! I was watching everyone (and their brother) knitting this sweater and I had to get in on the fun. I’m a sucker for anything with cables. I have a cabled cardigan that I bought at Target years ago that I wear all the time and people always ask me if I made it and I sheepishly (ha!) answer “no.” So I wanted to find a pattern that had that “comfy cabled cardi” feel to it so I could retire the store-bought sweater and proudly answer “YES!” to that question. Aidez fit the bill perfectly. I am just two sleeves away from finishing it! Just in time for warm weather! My timing is truly impeccable.

Marigold Socks
My second go-to project (and the one that serves as my small, portable project) is Marigold Socks. Some of you may recognize this stripey goodness from a Chevron Scarf I was making for myself. Well, my heart was definitely not in it and it never seemed to get any longer! The Scarf That Never Grows became a big joke in my knitting group so I rrrrrripped it out and decided on a fun stripey pair of socks instead! I do not consider myself a sock knitter but I do have a pair of Pomatomus socks that I made years ago. I wore them a few weeks ago and was reminded of how incredibly comfortable handknit socks are. They’re like a hug for your feet! So I may become a sock knitter after all!

Ruffle Rose Pillow

The Ruffle Rose Pillow is one of my current crochet projects. I never thought I needed a ruffly crocheted pillow until Allyson over at The Sweatshop of Love convinced me that indeed I do. My bed needs one (or more?) of these! This is my current “mindless” project that I usually pull out at knit night when gossiping intellectual conversation starts to take up most of my attention.

Another project I’ve been working on is ME! I’ve been trying to get into running for years. I would start running, injure myself, stop running, rinse, repeat. Since 2012 is my 35th year on this planet I decided THIS IS THE YEAR I BECOME A RUNNER. So I put my money where my mouth is and hired a running coach. He has me running three days a week and cross training three days a week. So I’m now doing an hour of some form of exercise six days a week. Sometimes I feel like exercising is all I do. Whew! It is exhausting but so rewarding! If any of you are on dailymile please add me as a friend! Lord knows I could use all the encouragement I can get.

This post is becoming super-sized so I’m going to end it here. I do have more things to share but I’ll save them for another post! I promise I’m going to start blogging more! Instead of a New Year’s Resolution, I’ll call it a Leap Year’s Resolution! Yeah!

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The funk

How can the one thing I’m completely obsessed with not bring me joy? It’s the question that I think all knitters and crocheters have asked themselves at one time or another. It usually happens when a week (or more) has gone by and we realize we haven’t picked up our needles or hooks at all.

Of course, there can be many reasons for this lull/hiatus. One is life. Life sometimes (most of the time?) finds itself getting in the way of the fun stuff. Another hurdle can be the loss of interest in current projects (this plagues me more than I care to admit). Or maybe we put down our hooks and needles because of lack of inspiration. There just aren’t any patterns out there “calling” to us. Or maybe there are other hobbies or interests filling up our free time.

Or maybe, like in my case, it’s all of the above.

I’ll admit that after my last post (has it really been 3 1/2 months?) I found myself in my own funk. I found myself doing a lot more reading and a lot less knitting. And I finally got myself an iPad, and, boy, is that thing a big time-sucker. It has games to play! Books to read! Movies to watch! I’m not really sure I even put it down at all that first week.

But, thankfully, babies continue to be born, and that’s always a kick in the butt to put down everything else and return to my yarn. And, without fail, when I do return, I remember just how much joy it brings me, and the love affair is rekindled.

So I do have two finished projects to show that I recently gifted to some expecting and new parents.

This is the Vintage Crocheted Blanket that I made for some friends who are expecting their first baby VERY soon! We don’t know if it’s going to be a boy or a girl so I decided on this gender-neutral, brightly colored blanket, and I love it! And they do, too! Project specs and more photos of the blanket are here.

I also finished a sweater for Geoff’s boss who has a new baby girl at home. Project specs and more photos are here.

We are slowly adjusting to summer down here, and the oppressive heat definitely tends to dictate what projects I work on (for some reason, finishing a 100% wool sweater when it’s 100 degrees outside just doesn’t sound appealing to me). So of my current works in progress (WIPs), I find myself working mostly on the Sunny Spread. Crocheting blanket squares is definitely doable in this heat. And who knows, maybe I’ll have it finished in time for cooler weather (barring any more funks).

What are you working on this summer?

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Catching up

Oy vey, I started this post back on Nov 17 and am just now getting around to finishing it and posting it! I guess the holidays are here for sure because it seems my days are filling up with things to do while at the same time feeling like they’re getting shorter and shorter!  I can’t believe it’s already December!

I hope that you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I ate too much and drank too much (in the true spirit of the holidays). And I’m going to be doing it all over again in just a few short weeks! Thank God for Spanx.

So let’s catch up on the exciting life and times of yours truly…

I finally got my iPhone 4. I think I mentioned months ago how I wanted one but was going to hold out for the white ones. (Heh heh heh.) Since I did not see an end to my wait (and my Blackberry was getting buggier by the day) I caved in a bought a black one. And so began my love affair (along with my addiction to Angry Birds and Words with Friends – I’m KnittingAllison, by the way. Start a game with me!).

When not absorbed in iPhone games I have been knitting and crocheting and have actually finished a few things (and started a few more…)

I finished Geoff’s vest and we think it fits him ok. It may be a tad too snug but we aren’t sure as it hasn’t really gotten cool enough for him to wear it for any length of time. But I liked the way it turned out and really enjoyed the pattern. Info about the project can be found here.

I also crocheted a quick Vintage Trivet from Linda‘s book Crochet Adorned. I am loving this book! So many great things I want to make! My project info for the trivet is here.

I also started my Que Sera, a Chevron Scarf for my mother-in-law and my Echo Flower Shawl. Oh, and I started (and finished!) a crocheted shawl called the Elise Shawl which is finally blocking as I type this (it’s only been three weeks since I finished it… I am really on the ball over here). I’ll try and get some good pics when it’s finished drying!

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Along with the hustle and bustle of the holidays, I am knee-deep in knitting classes! My tech editing class is going great and I am learning so. much. stuff. about pattern writing and grading and design. And the shawl design class I’m taking with Stefanie Japel just started! I can already tell it will be such a great class. Money well spent! I hope to be cranking out some great new patterns in 2011!

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I hope I’ll be able to pop in here again before the end of 2010 (if the holidays and classes don’t swallow me up!). Until then, I’ll leave you with a snuggly picture of my snuggly dogs doing what they do best. Happy Holidays!

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I promise I’m still knitting…

…but that’s not what this post is about.

In the week and a half since taking a crochet class seldom could you find me without a hook in my hand. It’s a whole new world that I am eager to explore!

I’m diving into my Ravelry project queue and finding all of the crochet projects I added weeks and months and years ago (before I even knew how to read them).

First up was the Queen Anne’s Lace Scarf, which practically flew off my hook. I love it! More pics and project info here.

Then I started this afghan, and I am totally in love with it. I love the color and sheen of the yarn I chose. I think it gives it a real “vintage” feel. And I can crank out the squares now without looking at the pattern, which makes it perfect for watching TV. Project info here.

Oh, and I also finished that dishcloth you saw a piece of in my last post.

I am quite enjoying being bi-crafty. The {yarn} world is my oyster!

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Show and Tell

Remember this post when I went on (and on and on) about wanting to learn crochet? I took the advice of Linda (and if you’re wanting advice on crochet, she’s definitely the one to listen to. I mean she’s written a whole book about it!) and signed up for a crochet class at my local yarn shop. The class was this past Saturday and already I am “hooked” (ha ha! get it?!). Oh, and I got a non-knitting friend to go to the class with me and now she’s “hooked” as well! I’ve brought another yarnaholic into the world! [insert evil laugh here] My next goal is to get her knitting, too!

Taking a class was definitely the best thing for me. I had tried teaching myself from books but nothing ever stuck. I would always have to flip back and forth trying to remember all of the stitches and would end up frustrated. It is so much better when you have a person there to talk you through the stitches. Because of that, I could focus on the steps of each stitch and actually remember them (which is kinda the point).

My show and tell consists of a little flower I made in class on Saturday (after doing my practice swatch with all the stitches). Then there’s my first attempt at a granny square I did last night and a dishcloth in progress (and yes I know I was griping about not wanting to crochet dishcloths the rest of my life but this one is fancy. It has two different stitches in it! Fancy!)

So now I’m starting to feel more confident about reading crochet patterns (and understanding them!). Those of us in class decided we wanted an advanced class so the instructor is coming back in a couple weeks for that. Very nice!

I’m excited to see where this new craft takes me!

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The “C” word

You know what I’m talking about.  No, not that!  It’s CROCHET!

Lately I’ve been obsessed with interested in learning crochet.  I mean really learning it.  I know how to chain and do basic stitches but I’m not satisfied with making simple dishcloths forever.  I want to learn how to read patterns!  I want to learn how to read charts!  I want to make afghans!  Pillows!  Granny squares!

I’ve spent hours ogling crafters’ crochet projects on Ravelry and flickr and checked out a stack of books from the library in the hopes that I, too, can be a “crocheter” (is that a word?).  How can you not want to learn everything there is to know about this craft when you see things like this?!

Those thumbnails do not do the photos justice.  So please click on the gallery above not only to see the photos up close but also to browse the photostreams of these talented women.  A word of warning: you may lose several hours of your life.  But believe me, they would be hours well spent.

Do you crochet?  If so, how did you learn?  I picked up knitting rather quickly and could easily teach myself new techniques by just opening a book.  But crochet seems to be a different beast.  I can’t seem to get past that very early beginner stage.  I’m confined to simple squares of straight basic stitches.  Are there “must-have” books that clearly explain the mystery of crochet?  Would I benefit more by waiting on a crochet class at my local yarn shop?  What about YouTube?  I’ve tried searching for crochet videos but there are so many and a lot of them aren’t really any good.  Is there a specific YouTube channel I should look for?  I’m open to suggestions and advice.

In the meantime, I’ve been knitting Orangina exclusively and trying to finish it up. It’s going slower than I’d like, but I guess that’s to be expected of any garment knit on size 3 needles.

I plan to get plenty of knitting done during this holiday weekend.  I hope you do, too!

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A small detour

Just one day left of my 3-day work week and it’s time for the weekend again! I could really get used to this kind of schedule. Our 4-day holiday weekend was a bit more chore-filled than Geoff and I had anticipated but a lot was accomplished and I guess that’s a good thing, right? Unfortunately one of the things that didn’t get accomplished was a lot of knitting.

And this is where my little detour comes into play. You see, I did find some time for knitting but the problem is that I didn’t really use that time for knitting. I used it to try and teach myself a little crochet. The book Cozy Crochet has been getting cozy on my bookshelf for months and it was this post from Diana of Streets and YOs that prompted me to pick it up. I wanted to make some of those coasters! My ultimate goal is to be able to one day crochet the Scoop Neck Pullover…

Isn’t that a great sweater?! And check out these little edgings, too!

Aren’t they cute? And they would be great on the edges of pillowcases, too!

So yeah, I wanna learn this whole “crochet” thing so I started with project #1 in this book – a dishcloth. It was done completely in single crochet. Not a problem. About half-way through it I decided I was a pro at single-crochet and ripped it all out to try my hand at project #2 – the coasters. This is where my story ends. I can’t figure it out! So I’ve got The Happy Hooker on hold at my library and will pick it up tomorrow. Hopefully that will shed some light on the subject. It’s the whole round thing that has me a bit confused. And I’m not used to the lingo so it’s like trying to read a foreign language. I don’t see how I will ever learn all of the stitches!! Single, double, triple, half-double (which to me sounds like it should be a single), triple-sow-cow, quadruple lutz double, etc. Ok so maybe I made up those last two. But seriously, there seems to be more to remember with crochet than there is with knitting. Do crocheters (is that a word?) commit all of these stitches to memory or do they just carry around a handy reference guide in their bags? I’m intrigued.

But, don’t fear. I’m still knitting. This is not going to turn into a crochet blog (besides “Freckles & Single Crochet” doesn’t have a good ring to it). But I hope to learn enough so that crochet will make an appearance here and there.
As for that knitting thing, I’m still working on the second sleeve of Hourglass. The second sleeve always goes slower than the first and it feels like a horribly long case of deja vu.

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